Neo Platonic philosphy

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Neo Platonic philosphy

Postby Tiberius Publicius Gracchus » Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:15 am

Hi, I have read a short snippit about Neo Platonic philosophy and would like to go more in depth. I found this article which seems like a good short introduction. I have read some of Plato's works and think this school of philosophy is worth looking into.
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Re: Neo Platonic philosphy

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:09 pm

Salvete amici!

Neo-Platonism is also from a historical point of view very interesting.
We know that Emperor Iulianus was probably a follower of this philosophy and there seems to be a continuity that stretches right to the Renaissance. In Neo-Platonism the ancient Roman traditions seem to have survived the Edict of Thessalonica by Theodosius and the following Christian oppression of the Middle Ages.

A few key events here:
3rd century - Plotinus, founder of Neo-Platonism
380 CE - Edict of Thessalonica coming into effect in the Eastern Empire, Christianity state religion
392 CE - Empire reunited, Religio Romana now banned in the West too
410 CE - Plutarch of Athens revives the Academy in Athens and becomes first scholarch
529 CE - Academy in Athens closed by Emperor Iustinianus for promoting paganism
Many Neo-Platonists join the Pendidacterion (University of Constantinople), which is independent from the Church and the Christian Emperor.
532 CE - Last scholarch of the Academy, Damascius and his followers go into exile at Ctesiphon (Persia)
533 CE - Persians defeated by the Empire, peace treaty allows Damascius and his Neoplatonists safe return, Damascius goes to Alexandria and later to Harran to continue his teachings
640 CE - Harran conquered by the Arabs, Neo-Platonist community there now under the rule of the Caliphate
830 CE - Neo-Platonist and Hellenist community in Harran forced to convert to Sabianism (often a cover for a pagan religion)
Arab philosopher Al-Kindi introduced into Neo-Platonism in Harran, continues Neo-Platonist teachings in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, the capital of the Caliphate, Platonist philosophy creates many islamic followers and allow many ancient sources to survive in Arabic translations
1204 CE - Constantinople conquered by Crusaders, Pendidacterion under control of the Church. Neo-Platonists forced to withdraw into private circles in Constantinople
1248 CE - Mongols conquer Baghdad, House of Wisdom destroyed, end of the Neo-Platonist community there
1390 CE - Neoplatonist scholar Manuel Chrysoloras sent as Eastern Imperial ambassador to Venice for support against the advancing Turks.
1438 CE - Meeting of Neo-Platonist Gemisthos Pletho with Cosimo de Medici of the ruling family of Florence.
1453 CE - Fall of Constantinople, all Neo-Platonists forced to flee to the West, mostly to Florence, triggering the beginning of the Renaissance there
1462 CE - Foundation of the Neoplatonic Academy in Florence. Marsilio Ficino scholarch. Foundation of the Academia Romana in Rome by Iulius Pomponius Laetus promoting Platonism and Hellenist religion
1494 CE - Closure of the Platonist Academy of Florence. Medici losing control of Florence. Terror regime under Girolano Savonarola.
1513 CE - A Medici, the driving force behind Neo-Platonism, becomes Pontifex Maximus (Pope Leo X) triggering the Reformation as counter-movement

We know how it continues. The influence of the Church is severely shaken by the Reformation and the resulting 30-Years War.
Neo-Platonism again has a great influence on the movement of Enlightenment in the 17th century and Freemasonry.
The foundation of the United States of America is driven by these ideas of the Enlightenment and Neo-Platonism.
The movement spreads to Europe starting the French Revolution.
The Sacrum Imperium Romanum collapses as a result.
Our modern society, the principles of Human Rights, democracy etc, all are built on the ideas of this movement - Neo-Platonism, Renaissance, Enlightenment.

In a way Neo-Platonism has survived until the present day and shaped our modern world. It has also changed Christianity, which is in its modern form not so much based on the bible, worship of relics of the martyrs and the belief in an imminent end of the world, which would be characteristic of traditional Christianity, but rather based on the values of Neo-Platonism and a Deistic concept of the monotheist god that reminds very much of the "One" in Plotinus' philosophy or the demiurge in Plato's Timaeus.

If we are honest, we would have to say that Neo-Platonism is the predominant religion/philosophy of the modern Western world, not Christianity of which is nothing left but an empty shell filled with Neo-Platonist thought. Neo-Platonism has far more influence on today's Christianity than the bible that most people are not even familiar with.
When modern politicians quote those famous "European/Western values", then they refer to the values of Neo-Platonism, not those of original Christianity.

1800 years ago Plotinus started a movement that survived the Dark Ages and controls how we think today and how our society works.
The importance of Neo-Platonism is vastly underrated, because the common people are hardly aware of it and its teachings. The elite and the leaders of our society however seem to be quite familiar with it, because they have shaped our world according to it. It is a very interesting subject indeed.

Optime valete!
C. Florius Lupus
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Re: Neo Platonic philosphy

Postby Tiberius Publicius Gracchus » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:39 am

Thank you Gaius for your informative post! One thing I have found about ancient philosophy is there is no gentle introduction to it. With the exception of a few wikis you have to go straight to the ancient sources. Right now I am going through the Roman histories such as Livy and Tacitus, but when I am finished with those I plan to go to philosophy. I have read some of Cicero's philosophy and am not sure I agree 100% on his musings on the Nature of the Gods. On that subject I am not certain of anything other than that they exist.
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